On Feb. 18, we saw Texas open its season with an 8-0 win over Maryland at Disch-Falk.
And now, four months later, we get to go see the Longhorns try and win their seventh national championship.
That’s right, we’re going to Omaha.
The van is loaded, bags are packed, the maps are out, and the playlist is set — Jon requested heavy amounts of Ke$ha. Let the 13-hour drive begin.
Texas’ 2011 season began with high expectations — Omaha-or-bust. We’re embarking on our trip with lofty goals as well — to watch some great baseball in the college baseball capital of the world.
The group of three — baseball beat writer Jon Parrett, photographer Andrew Edmonson and myself — will be spending either seven or 15 days in Omaha, depending on how Texas plays.
Big thanks go out to our awesome Daily Texan adviser Doug and the business department, Lori and Amy, for giving us the green light on this trip.
We’ll be writing and shooting multiple times a day, so expect some awesome content both in the print and online editions of The Daily Texan. We also plan on using this blog as a running diary, documenting the progress of the trip.
There will be a familiar face missing from tonight’s game three of the Austin Super Regional. “Hook ‘em,” Texas’ costumed mascot, will not be making an appearance in tonight’s game against Arizona State after he got in an altercation with a fan during yesterday’s game, according to an NCAA official.
During Colt McCoy’s college career, he was twice named an All-American, scored a school-record 102 touchdowns and won a NCAA-record 45 games. McCoy was the quintessential Longhorn quarterback – talented, productive and likable. But his wife, Rachel, made some controversial comments Tuesday, claiming that boosters frequently approach student-athletes at the University of Texas with improper invitations.
Rachel McCoy called in to ESPN Radio’s “The Herd with Colin Cowherd” to discuss relationships between boosters and football players, as well as between agents and her husband. She asserted that athletes were offered things like “a dinner, a hunt, a fishing trip,” also adding, “At Texas, you’re taught to take absolutely nothing.”
University of Texas athletic director DeLoss Dodds swiftly responded.
“We take compliance very seriously at Texas,” Dodds said Wednesday in a statement. “We have procedures in place that enable our coaches, student-athletes and administrators to make the right choices. We are performing our due diligence as always to make certain there are no outstanding compliance issues.”
The comments made by Rachel McCoy and the statement issued by Dodds come on the heels of fiascos unraveling at Ohio State and the University of Southern California, where improper benefits were given to star players and punishments were retroactively handed down. Between the two programs, 30 scholarships, two years of bowl eligibility, a Heisman Trophy, a national championship, a head coach and a starting quarterback were lost. Incidents like these lead many to believe that a culture of corruption characterizes college athletics, especially in college football.
“People in Texas are just being friendly, they don’t mean anything by it at all,” she said. “You cannot expect 19- to 20-year-old kids to say no to free stuff when they’re in college.”
While there could not have been much malice behind her words, it remains baffling as to why she would randomly call into a radio show (one of the nation’s most-listened to radio shows, at that). What’s even stranger, however, is what she said once she made the call. She questions what “grown, adult men with law degrees” would get out of extending a dinner invitation, but fails to realize the dire consequences that could befall a program (see Ohio State and
USC) if those invitations are accepted.
“It’s hard because you have adults who you respect and who you think will know what’s right and wrong,” Rachel McCoy said. “My joke is that my biggest competition with Colt is not girls, it’s 40-year-old men who just want to say, ‘Hey, I did this with Colt’ and ‘Hey, I did this with his teammates.’”
This is not to say that Rachel McCoy is a bad person or even what she did was all that bad — it was merely startling and ill-timed, considering the violations and sanctions that have dominated college football headlines recently. More importantly, her comments are unlikely to trigger investigations or consequences like they did at Ohio State and USC. Nevertheless, the call and the comments made during the call should not have been made.
Rachel McCoy and Cowherd spent six minutes wondering why boosters wave perks under student-athlete’s noses or why agents kept bugging Colt when he was in college. Now, Texas fans are left wondering what compelled Rachel McCoy to have that conversation in the first place.
The Longhorns just finished up the Austin Regional, beating Kent State 5-0 in the elimination game to advance to the Super Regional, which will be held in Austin. Arizona State will be the upcoming opponent, but there’s all week to talk about how Texas matches up with the Sun Devils. For now, let’s close the book on a wild and crazy weekend of baseball.
Personally, I think the snub of Sam Stafford is the biggest complaint with the All-Tournament team. On my ballot, I had Stafford as the MOP. In two games, the junior left-hander started twice, pitching 10.2 combined innings of one-run ball. If it wasn’t for his gutsy effort Monday against Kent State, I’m not so sure the Longhorns would have won, as they really had nobody else who could have effectively started and lasted three or four innings.
Inside Augie’s Mind
I’ve transcribed head coach Augie Garrido’s comments from today’s post-game press conference, in which he explained how he worked all six pitchers in the game.
“The way that their lineup breaks down, they have more lefts than rights. We were trying to get Sam Stafford [a left-hander] through the top of the order twice, and that’s what we did. We felt if he did that, he had done his job. Then the numbers added up and we made switches from there. Depending on if it was a momentum-shifting moment or not, which it was when we brought him in, we were bringing in Milner. If we had had five or six runs, we would have put in Andrew McKirahan. Either way, we wanted to throw a lefty. When the lineup turns over to righties, we would have taken them out for Carrillo, if there were runners on base, or Nathan Thornhill, if it was a clean inning.
Cole Green and Taylor Jungmann committed to an inning, so we could work backwards from Corey Knebel. We thought he could throw two innings if we needed him to. He didn’t, because Sam went farther than we had thought he would. So what that did is put Knebel into one, so we were able to pitch Cole and Jungmann one inning each. Between Cole and Jungmann, Jungmann is more effective against left-handed hitters than Cole is. That’s how we staggered the pitching changes.”
Impressions of Kent State
Color me impressed with the quality of play that the three-seed Golden Flashes brought to this regional. They gave the Longhorns all they wanted and more. Head coach Scott Stricklin made it a point to acknowledge how well the Austin crowd treated his team.
“I want to say how much we enjoyed our week here in Austin. This is the fourth regional that we’ve been to in the last five years and I can say that it’s done right here. The fans were unbelievable. They got on us but they got on us the right way. They cheered for their team. They cheered for our players when they made good plays. That’s the first thing our kids were talking about last night how good the fans are here and how good the people are. That’s the first thing I want to say, how much we enjoyed our stay here in Austin.”
While his coach was a class act, I’m not sure Kent State pitcher Andrew Chafin made any friends this weekend. I’m not talking about the gem he twirled against the Longhorns on Saturday night.
On Sunday, Chafin and his teammates were walking across the field into the dugout a few hours before the game began, and Chafin looked up at the press box and dragged his pointer finger across his neck — the “throat slash.” Not sure what he’s got against a bunch of guys with laptops and tape recorders.
Lusson goes long
Kevin Lusson has got to be the story of the weekend. The junior designated hitter, who came into the regional hitting .190, had quite a series. Saturday night, he hit a ninth-inning, three-run home run against Kent State that brought the Longhorns within two. The momentum carried over Sunday when Lusson, with a runner on third, slapped the game-winning hit in the bottom of the ninth against the Bobcats. The ball hopped over the right field wall. In any other case, it would have been a ground-rule double, but in walk-off situations, nothing else counts once the winning run crosses the plate.
In the nightcap, he launched another bomb over the right-field wall to distance Texas’ lead against Kent State in a must-win game.
After its 7-5 loss to Kent State tonight, Texas must now win three consecutive games to come out alive in the Austin Regional. The Longhorns will play Texas State Saturday at 1 p.m. and if they win, will face Kent State a few hours later, at 6:30 p.m. If they come out on top in both of those games, they’d play Kent State on Monday for the regional championship.
Had a chance to speak with Perfect Game USA analyst Kendall Rogers after the game. Some highlights:
Texas’ chances at coming out of the Austin Regional:
“It’s an uphill battle. Texas State probably doesn’t have the pitching to get by in the morning game against Texas. For the Longhorns it’ll be interesting to see whether they can build off what they did in the final inning tonight (three runs in the ninth)."
On the possibility that the Golden Flashes finish off the Longhorns tomorrow:
"David Starn, their number three pitcher is probably as good as a one or two guy. The big key for the Longhorns is to get off to a hot start offensively because they can’t let Starn get into a groove."
On the Golden Flashes:
"They’re a pretty solid club. It doesn’t surprise me that they’re doing well. People expected them to do well in this regional."
On the Austin Regional:
"On the surface, it’s probably the second or third weakest regional. Texas State was a weak two, obviously not a good four-seed here (Princeton), but Kent State is proving that there’s at least one worthy team in this thing."